While Lemon Bay’s football team practiced this week for its second-round playoff game, the Manta Rays’ undermanned basketball squad took its lumps during the Lemon Bay Tip-Off Classic.
Sean Huber, the school’s Athletic Director in addition to the basketball coach, wishes all the best for the football team, of course. But he eagerly looks forward to the day when the six players missing from his hoops roster finally don their uniforms.
“Just missing all my big guys,” Huber said with a laugh. “It’s been tough, but football is doing its thing. I’ve coached football for 25 years, so I get it. But it does give other people the opportunity to go play and that’s why we have preseason games.”
Lemon Bay lost 67-57 to Sarasota Christian, then fell to Cardinal Mooney, 58-45. Shea Cullum was a bright spot, reaching double figures in both games. Four fleet-footed Mantas – Cullum, Jacob Newcombe, Jace Huber and Donnie Harvey – reached double figures against Sarasota Christian, possibly previewing a team that knows how to find the open man at the offensive end of the floor.
The tallest of those four players is Cullum, who stands 6-3. That overall lack of premium height is something Lemon Bay teams are not accustomed to, so Huber is having to change up the Mantas’ style of play.
“The last couple of years here, we’ve had some really big teams — 6-10, 6-9, 6-8 – but right now we’re not that way,” Huber said. “I think you saw what we’re going to do: Take advantage of our quickness and get up and down the floor.”
When the football players arrive – Colin Corrigan, Chase Tudor, Jackson Benedict, Chris Domoracki and Everett Baker – Huber said the Mantas will have premium depth in addition to a little more height.
“We do have a deep bench and there’s not a lot of fall-off except at the post positions because they’re all off playing football,” Huber said. “But we’re a hard-nosed team and we stress all the blue-collar goals blue-collar teams do, like taking charges, rebounding and diving on the floor for loose balls.”
All of that, Huber said, will be needed if Lemon Bay is going to improve upon last season’s 9-16 record, which included a 1-7 mark against the other Charlotte County schools and Venice.
“We can’t just walk into a gym and win,” he said. “We have to do all those things to have a chance. I like this team, though. They’re a lot of fun. My personality is reflected in it and it’s a lot of fun when your players see things the way you do.”